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Uzbekistan gets the cold shoulder from EBRD

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development decided to restrict its already minimal lending to Uzbekistan in April, after the bank decided that the country had failed to meet economic and humanitarian benchmarks it set one year ago.

In April 2003, EBRD president Jean Lemierre laid down seven political and economic benchmarks for the country including combating the systematic use of torture, decreasing state control of the media, and freeing up the country?s FX market.

The targets were set in response to widespread press and non-governmental organizations? criticism of the bank?s decision to hold its annual meeting in Tashkent last year. Sources at the bank privately complain that the decision was taken by the bank's president at the time, Horst Kohler, who then abruptly left to head the IMF.

In early April 2004, the bank announced: ?A year after calling for improvement of the political and economic situation in Uzbekistan, the EBRD has concluded that there has been very limited progress and the bank is no longer able to conduct business as usual.?

The bank will therefore only focus on private sector investments in the country, rather than working with the government.

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